Raising the Gaze was commissioned by the following organizations: the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Boston Musica Viva, and the Aeolian Chamber Players. Peter Lieberson composed the work in 1988; it was premiered in March of that year by the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.
I composed Raising the Gaze quickly, with the feeling of executing a set of brush strokes in thick black ink. The piece lasts about eight minutes and is essentially in three parts. The first part itself has two sections, different in tempo but each one fast and perky. The middle part of the piece is a “slow dance” for piccolo, then bass clarinet solo accompanied by sharp drum strokes and piano chords out of which arise clouds of string harmonics. The final part of the piece begins with a bravura violin solo and ends with a drum solo accompanied by the other instruments recapitulating the opening music.